Tribal marks are specific marks which comes in different shapes and sizes, commonly found on the face; which gives it another name of “facial marks, or facial mutilation ”.According to history, tribal marks practice in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era when the colonial masters were capturing people and taking them to foreign countries for slavery. People started giving family members marks to identify and recognise them when if they were captured and later found.Thus, these permanent marks became ways of identification passed on from family to family, members of the same village, identification of royal lineage and people from the same lineage. Different lineage, town, and village have different tribal marks, some with similarities and some totally different.
There are some other reasons for facial mutilation, like mentioned above, tribal marks were mainly for identification. At some point in history, every clan and village have their distinct tribal marks and that made it easy for either of them to identify their kith and kin in the event of invasion, war, getting lost, or been captured for slavery.But later, it became a form of creativity and tattoos on bodies, especially the women. In fact, at some point, women with better looking were valued possessions and were more expensively married.Tribal marks are mostly given to people at a very young age most especially when they were still babies. This is because, at that age, the child doesn’t have a say on decisions to giving him or her tribal marks. The people who make these marks use either razor blades or sharp knives to cut the face and they have native dye, pigmentation or black paste usually from grounded charcoal dust which is put into the open wound to stain the marks, which helps to stop the bleeding and to make the stream lines of tribal markings.